A Generation of Cheap Sardonics
“The deserving poor.” Officially an old fashioned saying according to the Cambridge dictionary, one which doesn’t accord with our modern conceptions of who’s deserving of our sympathy and whom we ought to revile.
There used to be a time when we understood the importance of personal virtue; where working hard, honouring one’s commitments, dealing fairly with others, and accepting responsibility for one’s mistakes were things that we celebrated – and yet we also recognized that even when the values of thrift and temperance were followed, a spate of ill fortune could devastate a person. A single mother whose husband died honourably in war might find herself in the same position as the slattern who couldn’t keep her legs closed, but where the latter is a pox upon society the former is a pillar, and deserving of what help we can render. She is the deserving poor.
The reason this phrase is so passe is because we as a society have crumbled into envy and narcissism. When we see a good woman brought low by misfortune, the knee jerk reaction in most people is not one of empathy – “There, but for the Grace of God, go I,” – rather it is a feeling of satisfaction, of schadenfreude, pleasure at seeing another suffer through no fault of their own. Meanwhile we take the slattern and raise her up, describe her single motherhood as ‘heroic’, and force others to pay for her lifestyle through socialism.
Black Lives Matter is no different. Christopher Cantwell covers the latest case coming out of Chicago: Pierre Loury, an “aspiring rapper”, shoots up some of his fellow Blacks, and then winds up getting put down by police. He is, of course, just a good boy who dindu nuffin, who’s currently undergoing beatification by the typical voices amongst Left Libertarian circles, while those Blacks who try and make something of themselves, only to be dragged back down by their ghetto friends, are ignored and laughed at.
This is nothing new from the radical left, but it’s become increasingly prevalent amongst the political right.
Laramie Hirsch argues that it’s a hatred of sincerity:
You’ll spend years pretending that your friends are rational or even smart. But then, along comes a sincere candidate telling our society’s media exactly what the Establishment’s political game is all about, and it stirs up the hornet’s nest. Suddenly, people begin calling Trump “mean,” “pig,” and “sleaze.” American society is forced to reveal what it has been all along, and they hate that. Patsies and shills are brought out into the sunlight. Corruption is no longer played down, but it’s obvious and in your face. People talk about killing those they disagree with. People you’ve gotten along with before and who have agreed with you on everything suddenly become stone cold enemies.
We no longer hate people for their vices – we hate them for their virtues. There are many things to dislike about Donald Trump if you’re a conservative – he’s very middle-of-the-road on most issues – but his moderate policy stances aren’t why people hate him; they hate him for everything that he’s doing right: calling out the media, shaking up the GOPe, putting America first, and behaving with confidence, swagger, and sincerity – that’s what people hate about him.
Stefan Molyneux spoke with a couple of Objectivists who phoned in to his program to discuss the Trump hatred coming from long-time friends of theirs within the movement; irrational, venomous, spit from people they’d long thought to be rational and empirical. As Stefan said, Trump is an amazing litmus test of your compatriots; whether they live the virtues they preach, or whether it’s a facade, a narcissistic shell, an identity which feels threatened by the likes of Trump. Even Stefan himself is a litmus test; there is much to disagree with him on (I am neither an atheist nor a huge fan of the nonaggression principle, and his early arguments for de-FOOing went too far in my opinion), but it is not these excesses or vices which drive his opponents mad, it is Stefan’s advocacy for the truth – his sincerity and virtue – which bring inordinate hated from men of a supposed empirical bend.
Narcissism is a theme that runs throughout the writings of The Last Psychiatrist. If you’re watching it, it’s for you. It’s a slippery concept. Each time you think you’ve nailed it down – there it goes, skittering away into the shadows. Are you laughing at the stupid depravity of Honey Boo boo and her trashy family? You’re the target audience for that pablum; feeling self-righteous over your own mediocrity is the whole point. Holden Caulfield slinks about the outskirts of society, calling everyone else a phony; meanwhile cynical moderns reject and ridicule sincerity, while slavishly subscribing to a porn star’s twitter. When you believe in nothing you can’t be duped – except, of course, you’ll be duped by everything.
There’s a subtle difference between pity and empathy. Empathy puts you in the other person’s shoes; “There, but for the Grace of God, Go I.” The true horror of the shambling wrecks on 8chan’s /cow/ board is that you see your own sins reflected back and magnified; hating those monsters demands a recognition of the parts of yourself that you hate. Pity, meanwhile, is a form of contempt; an excuse to self-aggrandize by laughing at the sins of another. Take these lyrics from a popular song which celebrates a murderer:
I’m just a poor boy, nobody loves me.
He’s just a poor boy from a poor family,
Spare him his life from this monstrosity.
His victim remains nameless, just as Pierre Loury’s victims go unnamed. The police who prosecute him are described as persecutors. How dare they hold him up to an objective standard! All these people believing in law and order – facts and evidence – nothing but phonies man, they’re just pretending to be good people, their sincerity is all an act – why don’t any of them appreciate who I am on the inside? I mean – why do they all say that my outside isn’t the image I want them to think it is? Sure, mama, I killed a man, but that doesn’t make me a killer!
Instead of harsh justice and incisive humour, we’ve developed a culture of dismissive sardony and cheap sarcasm. The most popular social commentators aren’t those who demand journalistic truth or who elucidate complex topics, it is those who reaffirm preconceived notions with shoddy logic and fallacies galore. We pity the monster, while reviling the courageous and strong; we support the wicked while attacking the just.
This is the battle for civilization, gentlemen. I can’t emphasize that enough. When sincerity is attacked and punished, laughed at and driven to the hills – when lies are celebrated and supported, when monsters are subsidized – our civilization loses its soul. Its survival can no longer be justified.
Where are you in this fight?
To again quote Laramie Hirsch:
We should not throw our hands up. We should not abandon ship. Men should be fighting the enemies of civilization AND working on our own creations. We should be giving this struggle 200%. It may be an exhausting thing to focus on creative projects as well as fighting the oppressive culture of our feminist “cultural” overlords–but that is what our age demands of us. We live in an era in which there is a kind of spirit that determines to crush everything that makes sense. In such an era, good men should not rest and not stop doing everything they can to fight and improve their lives and their culture. We should not rest until every breath in us is spent.
Freedom of Speech is not free; and those of us who are in the trenches cannot fight if we do not have any infrastructure and support backing us. Those men I’ve mentioned here – Stefan Molyneux, Christopher Cantwell – their work survives through your donations. The same goes for A Voice for Men and Return of Kings; Ann Barnhardt cannot carry on her righteous work without your backing, Matt Forney needs you to help him cover this election, and if you value the work that I do, my own Patreon needs your support as well. Not a lot of support – I, and the people I listed, are fighting in these trenches because it is the right thing to do – but even we need beans, batteries, and bullets.
So which is it going to be, folks? Will you put your money where your mouth is, and support those who speak sincerely and truthfully, even though they fall short of perfection? Or will you let our generation fall into the cheap sardony of Holden Caulfield?
We can’t fight this battle without you.